Brian Anonymous
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My Father the Invalid

We all have to grow old sometimes, but what happens when your father can't take care of himself anymore?

My father has lived a really long life. His first wife died of an illness when he was approaching his middle age. At that time, he had four children to take care of himself.

He lived during an older generation where it wasn't uncommon to remarry to get your house back in order. He remarried to my mother and had me when he was close to 50.

Now I thought this was all normal and never really thought much of it until I reached high school. During my high school years my father had just retired from work. It was weird having him at home all the time because he was never really home ever. He would always be at work trying to support his children living at home.

Even in his 60s he didn't seem to miss a step. He was active and was still strong. I looked up to him because he was able to do so much and always showed me how smart he was by explaining how things worked. I was naive back then and every explanation he gave me was gospel to me.

Leading into my university years, my father was in his 70s. He was still active and continued to try to learn new things everyday. I guess that's how he kept his brain active.

It was at this time that I noticed a considerable decline in my father's wellbeing. My whole family took a turn for the worse. My oldest sister was diagnosed with cancer and passed away. Not long after that my mother was also diagnosed with cancer.

I could see that it took a lot out of my father. His anger toward things was different. He was not angry with people specifically anymore, but more angry with how society was. He became more tolerant of individuals and learned acceptance.

He was never a talkative person, but this period definitely put a great stress on him and on the rest of the family.

Still, he continued to focus on learning new things and tried to hangout with his local buddies. I thought nothing of it because he seemed to be fine.

10 years later, more bad news comes our way. My mother is diagnosed with cancer again. To add to this, my maternal grandfather has been diagnosed with cancer as well.

Our family wasn't ready for my mother's decision. She decided that she didn't want to go through chemo anymore because she didn't want to go through the horrible process again.

I was devastated, I couldn't imagine what my dad was going through. Our family doesn't like to talk about these things and we keep it all bottled inside so it's difficult to express feelings.

At this point, I started notice that my father wasn't quite mentally stable anymore. He would be rambling and paranoid about pretty much everything. My mother had been his rock. She was the one to keep him up to date with everything and organized for him.

Over the years, my father has been somewhat estranged from his children from his first wife for a variety of reasons. They had gotten married and did their own thing. In addition, the tensions of the cancer situations had made us all closed.

I remember when my mother passed away he would tell me and my younger brother that it was only the three of us now. We had to take care of each other, and that's what we did.

Another 10 years pass, and my father's lost most of his friends from old age and his body is breaking down.

The first thing that happened that we didn't think much of was that he lost a tooth from eating a peanut. We all had a good laugh about that, but since then, his gums and teeth have deteriorated so he cannot eat anything cold or crunchy.

He has had times when he's fallen and injured himself. He's gotten weird fungi and ailments that I've never seen before. Since he's so old now, doctors aren't really too concerned with his ailments. They just chalk it up to old age and they don't do anything for him.

The worse of it is that his mind is going. He can't quite remember things anymore and we're sometimes worried he'll get lost by himself. We gave him a cellphone, but he can't hear that well anymore rendering the cellphone useless. We tried to get him a hearing aid, but there's nerve damage that prevents him from using it.

I remember coming to his house to visit and seeing the kitchen flooded with water. He had forgotten to shut off the tap and the water overflowed. He forgets so much and has so many issues. His mental state is further exacerbated because of his growing paranoia.

My brother and I are stuck. We feel the guilt of putting him into a home, but even if we did we wouldn't be able to afford it. I'm sure there are tons of adult children going through the same thing, but in their late 30s?

I don't want to see my dad go, but there's a constant panic in my head whenever I get a call from him. He calls me for help and sometimes asks me to take him to the hospital. Every time it happens I get stressed out, thinking this day might be it... I might have to say bye to him permanently. It's a terrible feeling, but I have to be realistic about his age.

Now that I'm much older, I'm worried that I might be like this to my child. The circle of life for my family. I hope I can learn from my father and be a good father to my children.

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